Getting to Know Salesforce CRM

Many have heard about Salesforce, but what exactly does it do? And do you need it for your team?
Salesforce Logo on Building

It’s difficult to be a qualified marketer, salesperson, or someone addicted to day-trading and to not have at least heard of Salesforce.

I’m a Certified Salesforce Marketing Specialist and have a great deal of experience with much of what the CRM has to offer.

Hopefully, the below edifies those new to CRMs and what they offer, while still offering fresh insight for the seasoned pro.

Here’s what Salesforce is … in 5 minutes.

What does Salesforce CRM mean?

CRM stands for customer relationship management. Customer Relationship Management Systems are cloud-based software that manage the relationship between you and your sales prospects. CRM is an abbreviation most associated with Salesforce for two main reasons:

  1. They were the first company to present a cloud-based customer relationship management software for managing sales prospects in a “sales cloud” (more on this below).
  2. Salesforce is a publicly held company with the stock symbol CRM on the Nasdaq (NYSE)

Sales Cloud

When people say they are using “Salesforce” this is almost always short for Sales Cloud, which is Salesforce CRM product. Sales Cloud is the customer relationship management system that helped launched the company. It’s Sales Cloud that has arguably allowed Salesforce to build countless tools (i.e. software) to funnel in higher quality leads and improve how those leads function within your sales ecosystem.

Who are the competitors?

This is a tough question as “competitor” is somewhat subjective based on your need. For research purposes, here are the main competitors that try to support the same functionality as Salesforce CRM. I don’t have a great deal of experience with these but they exist.

  • Microsoft Dynamics
    • I know few people who use this, but Microsoft’s stock always seems to be going up so their software must have some customers
  • Adobe Marketing Cloud
  • Marketo
  • Hubspot Saleshub
  • Oracle Netsuite
    • Salesforce CEO came from Oracle. Outside of that, I know little about Netsuite

Learning how to use it

Salesforce has almost an infinite amount of customizations you can make on the back-end. Look at it not like it’s software as much as it’s an information network that can be coded by anyone who understands the architecture. These Salesforce experts are usually dubbed Architects or in some cases Admins.

The point is when you purchase Salesforce CRM Sales Cloud, you aren’t just buying software, you’re buying into a philosophy: Be as present as possible.

If you’re in sales and want to keep track of leads, you need to understand the terms account, lead, and opportunity, as well as organizing tasks. That should be as far as you need to go.

If you’re a marketer, you might be better off learning more about Salesforce Marketing tools like Pardot or Marketing Cloud than becoming a Salesforce master. Becoming a Pardot Specialist will allow you to build an understanding of things like object manager and dashboards, in addition to developing an overall understanding as to how Salesforce CRM connects with other apps.

Salesforce pricing

Salesforce pricing plan ranges from $25 to $300 per user on a monthly basis.

How do you know which pricing plan is for you?

How many people REALLY need a seat license in your business? It isn’t anomalous for some companies to still have seat licenses for individuals who are no longer at the company. Cross-checking to make sure your company doesn’t have any active licenses for people who left is paramount and can dramatically affect your pricing plan.

Using the sandbox

The good thing about Salesforce is that it has some solid training tools and an open sandbox (aka a database that you can play around in and learn how to use the program). The kicker is that you need to at least have a professional account ($50/month) in order to “play around” in the sandbox.

What makes Salesforce different

While I haven’t used every CRM software out there, I can say that Salesforce has two things going for it that most CRM competitors do not.

  1. Branding:
    Salesforce has found a way to make sales tools seem approachable, and dare I say (almost) fun. They don’t have boring tutorials or documentation — they have a “Trailhead,” a gamified approach to building your salesforce skills.
  2. Applications:
    Salesforce was arguably the first company to have a dedicated app store. Not Apple. Salesforce AppExchance has countless tools, ranging from DocuSign Integrations to map plug-ins for tracking where your leads are located across the country. This not only gives Salesforce the opportunity to make a tremendous amount of cheese and for sales teams to run up tremendous bills for accounts payable, but it further customizes your CRM experience with a couple of clicks.

The most prominent building Salesforce sponsors is the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. The tower is the second tallest building west of the Mississippi and it comes with a reported sponsorship price tag of $110 million. This is just one of the buildings in which Salesforce spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year to have its name on around the world.

The point is, when you purchase Salesforce CRM Sales Cloud, you aren’t just buying a subscription to a software, you’re buying into a philosophy:

Be as present as possible.

Salesforce does this by surrounding you with as many tools as you want to pay for, to ensure that every possible lead on the planet ends up on your radar. Once they end up in your database, they make sure that no one becomes forgotten.

…that you remain present with them until they tell you to leave them alone.

Final Minute

If you take anything away from this article, hopefully it’s this:

  1. Salesforce is the name of the publicly held company that is best known for the sales cloud CRM tool (most often referred to as “salesforce)
  2. Salesforce offers a slew of marketing software to help improve the quality of leads being funneled into your sales cloud. The primary programs for this are:
    • Marketing cloud, a separate tool from sales cloud that focuses on things like email marketing and social media ad targeting to name a few
    • Pardot, a marketing tool separate from marketing cloud and sales force, but integrates with both to help track and score your leads, before they end up in your CRM

In my opinion, Salesforce is arguably a bit too large and can become a bit too complicated for its own good. But if you go in with a specific and organized mission, it can be an incredible sales tool to determine where your leads are falling off in the funnel and what your overall strengths are as a sales organization.

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